Spey Valley Golf Course Review

Spey Valley golf course is a fine 21st-century creation set alongside the river with splendid views from start to finish

Spey Valley Golf Course - 15th hole
Glorious backdrops all around as here on the 15th hole
(Image credit: Spey Valley)

Spey Valley Golf Course Review 

GF Round: £35-£75 (rates per person reduce for three- and four-balls)
Par 72, 7,017 yards
Slope 140
GM Verdict – A big golf course with one of the best settings in the UK, flanking the Spey early on and playing against a glorious backdrop of the Cairngorms.
Favourite Hole – The long par-3 16th plays north of 200 yards past a copse and across the same expanse of water that also flanks the 15th hole.

Spey Valley Golf Course - 16th hole

Looking across the green on the par-3 16th to the 15th hole beyond

(Image credit: Spey Valley)

Playing golf in Scotland is a real thrill for scores of golfers. For many, the further north the better when it comes to the scenery, and a healthy number of the best golf courses in Scotland can be found in its northern reaches. The Moray Speyside region may not be quite as far north as you can go, but it is an area blessed with an enviable variety of courses from pretty inland layouts like Boat of Garten to the fine links at Moray in Lossiemouth.

Spey Valley Golf Course - 18th hole

18th hole backdrops don't come much better than Spey Valley's

(Image credit: Spey Valley)

Glorious backdrops abound, and nowhere is that more true than at mighty Spey Valley, a Dave Thomas creation that opened for play in 2006 at Macdonald’s Aviemore Resort and which ranks among the best places to play golf on Speyside. This is Speyside golf on a slightly grander scale, right beside the river itself, which seems to separate the 1st and 18th holes from the main body of the course, though in reality you never actually cross the river as it turns away at right angles as your make your way from the 1st green to the 2nd tee.

Spey Valley Golf Course - 6th hole

There's heather and water close to the 6th green

(Image credit: Spey Valley)

You stay close to it for a while until venturing further away after the demandingly long par-3 4th and epically long par-5 5th that stretches to 635 yards off the tips. From here, the course plays over majestic, rolling terrain, with heather, trees and big bunkers the main adversaries for much of the round until the 15th, where a large lake awaits anything pushed right on the approach. The fearsomely long par-3 16th then closely flanks the far side of that same lake.

Spey Valley Golf Course - 16th hole

The 16th is a testing long par 3 over water down the stretch

(Image credit: Spey Valley)

The European Challenge Tour visited Spey Valley ten times from 2009 to 2018, with a certain Brooks Koepka winning by three in 2013, four years before embarking on his multiple Major-winning exploits. Length certainly makes this a challenge unlike any other in the region, length that will only be exaggerated if you play when ground conditions are soft, so choose your tees wisely if you want to reap maximum enjoyment from your round in this most stirring of settings.

Jeremy Ellwood
Jeremy Ellwood

Jeremy Ellwood has worked in the golf industry since 1993 and for Golf Monthly since 2002 when he started out as equipment editor. He is now a freelance journalist writing mainly for Golf Monthly across the whole spectrum from courses and Rules to equipment and even instruction despite his own somewhat iffy swing (he knows how to do it, but just can't do it himself). He also edits The Golf Club Secretary Newsletter, has authored or co-authored three books and written for a number of national papers including The Telegraph and The Independent. He is a senior panelist for Golf Monthly's Top 100 UK & Ireland Course Rankings and has played all of the Top 100 plus 89 of the Next 100. He has played well over 900 courses worldwide in 35 countries, but put him on a links course anywhere and he will be blissfully content. On his first trip to Abu Dhabi a decade ago he foolishly asked Paul Casey what sort of a record he had around the course there. "Well, I've won it twice if that's what you mean!" came the reply...

Jezz can be contacted via Twitter - @JezzEllwoodGolf